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The Arts Council of Ireland, which received over €59.9 million in public monies in 2013, has announced a new €150,000 endowment to be granted to an Irish writer of high standing who will be styled the Laureate for Irish Fiction.

“The honour will be used to promote Irish literature nationally and internationally and to encourage the public to engage with high quality Irish fiction.”

Sounds impressive, yes? A worthy patronage of artistic endeavour, yes? Open to any writer in the country… er, no. It turns out that that this government largesse is solely available to those authors who write in the English language. Those who write in the Irish language are not eligible. Apparently when the Arts Council refer to “high quality Irish fiction” they mean “high quality English language Irish fiction”. You won’t see a Mario Vargas Llosa or Stieg Larsson emerging under their remit!

17 comments on “Cultural Segregation?

  1. an lorcánach

    i see hugh brady of UCD is listed on the council’s webpage: considering the exclusively anglophone nature of award you mention, sionnach, it’s no surprise he’s on the judging panel as it is under his tenure that early irish literature – Eoin Mac Néill was professor – is taken off the undergraduate curriculum, as well as removing the cothrom na féinne from the college’s motto and logo – see http://www.ucd.ie/visualidentity/identity_research.ppt

    “Two mottos might seem excessive…Cothrom Feinne [sic] speaks of inclusivenesses… on its own it might lessen the standing of UCD”

    As for ‘Ollscoil Coláiste, Baile Átha Cliath’, the justification for ‘re-branding’ speaks volumes: a perceived “confusion for overseas students” and “Irish people like to see the Irish name on literature and logos, but they are unlikely to object to its absence”

    brady is stone cold… makes me warm to gaelophobe tom garvin!


    • Jesus. That is some presentation. There is an “affection” for an Irish name. Could they have found a more dismissive word? And speaking Irish is indicative of a “patriotic” fervour? What is speaking English, an indication of “treasonous” loyalties? Idiots.


      There is an affection for an Irish designation
      But it should be ‘as well as’ rather than a stand-alone title
      The confusion for overseas students would probably be too difficult to surmount
      It also speaks of a patriotic ‘fervour’ to some
      This may no longer be appropriate or helpful
      Irish people like to see the Irish name on literature and logos, but they are unlikely to object to its absence
      ‘Dublin’ speaks sufficiently of UCD’s national credentials”


      • an lorcánach

        the sheer ignorance, intolerance and indifference to both financial accountability but management of language heritage by publicly funded institutions and arts administrations really is breathtaking – usually well documented twice a month in the Phoenix magazine – the point is though they’re getting away with it — — !

        million-dollar-funders will force anti-republicans and Gaelophobes within the state’s arts education sector to tackle poor international ratings and grade inflation – see endowment for 2-yearly tcd early Irish post-grad programme from late 90s and continued competition for wealthy international students — — irony is that UCD’s “internationalist” 21st century branding has made it not unique but just another uniform Anglo-American institution

        hugh brady’s brazeness knows no bounds!



        • As great the work done by the likes of NUI Galway and UCC, its high time for Ireland to have a separate Sabhal Mòr Ostaig here in Dublin, but one devoted to learning a broad range of subjects through Irish as well as a focus on Gaelic studies. And preferably with full on-campus accommodation to generate a community of Irish-speakers amongst students and staff. I’d rather my taxes were going on that worthy endeavour than being wasted on paying for kitchen extensions for our senior “academics”! We need a modern, 21st century Scoil Éanna for third level students.


          • Aontaím go hiomlán leat gur cheart saghas Sabhal Mór Ostaig a chur ar bun le haghaidh lucht na Gaeilge in Éirinn ach ba chóir cúrsaí ulpan a chur ar fáil freisin (cosúil leis na cúrsaí sa mBreatain Bhig).


          • Muiris @ Points of information. 1. SMO was in the beginning a private venture. A rather well-off locally connected aristocrat decided to invest in the home turf. The main innovation was to offer courses in e.g IT and business studies through Gàidhlig, rather than the usual fare of folklore, history and lit. That seemed crazy at the time but seems to have been validated in the end. 2. SMO is not in the capital, it out in the sticks, not even near to a town of any size.


  2. I understand that an Irish language work (or Polish language or whatever) would be unlikely to win such an award due to practicality issues (not every judge would be able to read it) but surely there should be an option for non-English writing to be nominated, as even a nomination would be an honour.


    • The award is a endowment of 150,000 euros for an Irish writer to lecture, write and promote Irish literature in Ireland and internationally for three years, underwritten by the Irish tax-payer. Apologies if I didn’t make that clear. Personally I’d rather see several aspiring or struggling writers helped with this money than one person leading a lifestyle of the rich and famous but then that is how these unaccountable quangos operate.

      But if it must exist then at least it should be open to writers from Ireland who use Irish or English, or both. To tell Irish language writers that they are banned from eligibility, that only English language writers will be considered, is cultural segregation. When one considers that one of Latin America’s finest writers has written one of the best Irish historical novels in decades, and in Spanish, it says much for the parochial, Anglophiliac nature of the incestuous elites who control the Arts Council.


  3. Public money used to screw indigenous language – again. Yeah – we have this in Cornwall, too.


  4. UCD must be attracting particularly thick foreign students if they can’t handle the idea that an institution uses two languages since, by definition, all of them will already be bilingual and the reality is that probably most of them are used to bilingualism at home. Cardiff University is a ‘top flight university’ in the UK which seems to have no problem attracting foreign students despite the fact that virtually everything is bilingual, right down to the run of the mill forms that students fill in to express what they think of courses etc. How can Cardiff’s foreign students manage it whereas UCD’s can’t?


    • Absolutely. I know NUI Galway tries to do a good job in this area but what the Irish-speaking community needs is a large self-contained university sited in Dublin city or its near suburbs with on-campus student accommodation and all courses through the medium of Irish. Something like the stereotypical European or North American college.

      I’d go further and use the university to act as an anchor for a sort of urban Gaeltacht by getting the agreement of the local authority and community to arrange for the host town/area to be bilingual in nature (public and private roads, public signs, shops, etc.) in return for the economic prosperity/employment it would bring.

      To give a concrete example the present Deer Park Hotel and Castle in Howth would be a fantastic site for such a university with new teaching buildings and accommodation for staff and students in its grounds. Around this could be created a visible Gaeltacht with the overflow of students and staff housed in the surrounding area and the agreed use of Irish only or bilingual signs in shops, etc. There would also be temporary/part-time work for students in bilingual employment in the town.

      I’m sure others could think of similar sites around the city’s environs (and perhaps more realistic – affordable! – ones too).

      Though as Marconatrix points out, the Sabhal began through a philanthropic gesture. Perhaps there is some wealthy Irish-American millionaire willing to make a grand gesture? I wouldn’t rely too much on the home-grown ones, though… 😉


  5. an lorcánach

    ironically hugh brady was on rté radio 1 this morning talking about former students of ucd providing funding and having pride or somesuch in their alma mater (new modernist building in belfield for peter sutherland ‘school of law’) — of course everyone’s cottoned on to this alumni business — as for dedicated irish language university, wasn’t this partly the aim of fiontar in DCU?


    other fiontar sites


    • Yes, though from what I’ve seen Fiontar is simply a school within a school and it seems to be geared more to public service needs than anything else. While high profile in terms of Irish language academia it has had little public impact beyond that. Take Fiontar as a kernel and then imagine an entire university and campus based on that premise, with a sympathetic or participatory host community around it.

      There are plenty of state-funded institutions and groups from Fiontar to the School of Celtic Studies at DIAS that could be amalgamated under one umbrella and on one campus. I’m not arguing for “segregating” Irish medium studies but rather for a college of excellence to exist alongside what we already have. And a large student body communicating, learning and socialising entirely though Irish on a daily basis because an environment is there for them to do so in.


      • an lorcánach

        if the establishment are able to consolidate the disparate DIT campuses onto grangegorman then absolutely an excellent idea — (a-)political will!

        http://www.ggda.ie/ — no irish version available naturally
        “…Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA) is a statutory agency established in 2006 by the Irish Government…”


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